The offensive line was supposed to be a strength of the Clemson football team this year, but for whatever reason, it hasn't been. The holes haven't been as big and the running game has been on a general decline as teams key in on stopping QB Woodrow Dantzler.
Next season there will be even more holes to fill with the loss of players like Kyle Young and Will Merritt. That being said, who are the Tigers going after on the offensive line and what are the chances of signing these fine athletes?
We don't have all the answers, but we've got some. Interestingly enough, it seems as though Tommy Bowden maybe going after the heavier linemen these days. Most of the guys that are high on Tigers' list are 6'4, 300 lbs or bigger- and thats before they even set foot on campus.
#1 Dustin Fry (6'3, 305)
Probability of signing with Clemson: 70%
Quite simply, he is the number one offensive line prospect in the state of South Carolina, if not the southeast, and he currently favors Clemson over South Carolina and North Carolina. He is unquestionably one of the strongest players in the country, putting up over 400 lbs (benchpress) and 600 (squat). He also is quick on his feet for his size, running the 40 in right under 5.0 seconds. Fry has scheduled visits to Maryland (Jan 4), Clemson (Jan 11), North Carolina (Nov 30), and South Carolina (Jan 25).
Dustin Fry will be one of the most pivotal players in the state of South Carolina this year. He would be a great pickup for Tommy Bowden, and a huge addition to the 2002 class.
Of course you know that he will be at this Saturday's South Carolina-Clemson game.
#2 Roman Fry (6'4, 255)
Probability on signing with Clemson: 80%
Roman Fry is one of the top offensive line prospects in the state of Ohio, and even though he his a bit undersized in the weight department, he is a bigtime prospect. Fry has been playing both ways on the offensive and defensive line for the Ironton Tigers, (one of the top programs in Ohio) and he has recorded a dozen sacks so far this season.
Fry has benched 355 pounds and 455 squat. He is extremely quick on his feet and has continuously dominated bigger players over the last two seasons.
The Tigers have been Fry's favorite ever since his visit for the Virginia game. Roman and his family love the atmosphere at Clemson and he will visit Clemson officially January 11. Indiana, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Ohio State are also competeting for Fry's services.
#3 Chris White (6-5 290)
Probability of signing with Clemson: 60%
Chris White, out of Chester, South Carolina has been a steady climber up the recruiting charts all season. As a junior on the offensive line last season, he graded out at 89%. He also plays both ways, registering 43 tackles on the defensive line.
White is another strong lineman, with a benchpress of over 375 pounds. Considered obe one of the top linemen in the state, he is powerful, but not quite as quick as a Roman or Dustin Fry. He is set to visit Clemson officially on January 18. Other schools involved are South Carolina and Maryland. "Pass blocking is my best attribute as a player," says White.
#4 Brian Johnson (6'5, 300)
Probability of signing with Clemson: 40%
Brian Johnson, considered one of the top offensive guard prospects in the state of Florida is set to visit Clemson officially on January 18. Johnson is another powerful player, with great strength and decent quickness. His max bench is 385 lbs.
Johnson is being recruited from all parts of the country, with visits also lined up with Arkansas, LSU and Southern Cal.
#5 Antonio Mercier (6'5,335)
Probability of signing with Clemson: 20%
Mercier is one of the top-ranked offensive linemen in Georgia. He has already set up official visits with Clemson and Georgia, and there will be more soon to follow. "Clemson wants me to play guard but I'll play wherever I'm needed," says Mercier.
Mercier has a great combination of size and strength, and also has decent quickness and great footwork. He has put up over 350 lbs on the bench, and squatted over 500 lbs.
Georgia is his current favorite with Clemson close behind. Mercier has been quoted as saying that he wants to go to school close to home, and that could be the deciding factor in where he ends up. He only lives a little over an hour from Clemson and prefers the small-town environment over the big city.
#6 Troy Reddick (6'6,310)
Probability of signing with Clemson: 30%
Troy Reddick, nicknamed the "Big Engine"
is another bruising lineman from the state of Georgia. He has already set up one visit to Georgia Tech, and figures to also go to Clemson and Auburn. "I like coach West and coach Jack Hines from Clemson, I feel pretty comfortable talking with them," says Reddick. Reddick is also comfortable in the classroom, with a GPA of 3.3 and an SAT score close to 1200.
Troy graded out at 88% last season, and has been just as effective for his senior campaign. He possesses the lethal combination of size and quickness, so you know he has caught Tommy Bowden's eye.
Reddick is being recruited as an offensive tackle by most schools and is just now starting to receive proper recognition for his skills.
In talking with coaches and other people close to these fine athletes, it appears that right now Roman Fry is going to be a Tiger, and more than likely Chris White and Dustin Fry will be too. Dustin is one of top offensive line prospects in the country, and if the Tigers' can land him, it will go along way in solidifying this years' class in the top 15. More importantly, it will give the Tigers an anchor on the offensive line for the next four seasons. Troy Reddick would be another big addition; he is vastly underrated and we have as good a shot as anybody at landing him.
Mercier is probably going to Georgia and Johnson is truly a wildcard. He has an official visit planned so anything can happen at this point.
Other lineman looking at the Tigers worth noting: Jabari Levey, Stephen Heyer, Rhett Parson, Joey Horne, Chris Turner, and Matt McClernan. All six of these players are planning on taking official visits to Clemson.
My estimation is that the Tigers will probably sign 4-5 offensive linemen this year, and if Roman and Dustin Fry are in that group, I think we will be just fine.
The Offensive Line: Who are the Tigers After?
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